Showing posts with label Anti Gay Russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anti Gay Russia. Show all posts

February 5, 2019

70 yr Vladimir and His Gay Life Time Partner of 64 Nikolai Were Found Murdered in Their Home_Russian Town Shrugs It Off

A playground in the town of Ilsky
A playground in the town of Ilsky

In a special report for Novaya Gazeta, correspondent Elena Kostyuchenko traveled to the town of Ilsky in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai to learn about the murder of an elderly gay couple. She found a community where homophobia is so common and accepted that many locals don't even hide their relief to be rid of two men who enjoyed a loving relationship. Meduza summarizes Kostyuchenko's report below. 
On January 10, neighbors reluctantly checked in on 70-year-old Vladimir Dubentsov and 64-year-old Nikolai Galdin and discovered their bodies. People in Ilsky repeatedly asked Novaya Gazeta correspondent Elena Kostyuchenko not to name them in her story — not because they were ashamed of how these two men were harassed or even murdered, but because they were embarrassed that a gay couple lived in their town at all.
Many in Ilsky don’t conceal their hatred of Dubentsov and Galdin, and complained to Kostyuchenko that the couple was openly gay. Starting roughly five years ago, the two men started feuding with neighbors, and local youths began tormenting and abusing them. The trouble apparently intensified when Dubentsov started lobbying the local government for priority housing that many in the community felt he didn’t deserve. He regularly called local officials, demanding the assistance and entitlements he was owed as the son of a World War II veteran (his mother served in the USSR’s brief naval war against Japan).
Dubentsov reportedly had a tense relationship with the local Cossacks, as well, who allegedly refused to let him join their May 9 Victory Day March as the son of a veteran, claiming that his homosexuality made him “less than a man.” The group’s leader, Ataman Viktor Pikalov, denies these rumors. Pikalov says he met Dubentsov twice: once to help him when his home flooded, and a second time when he asked for help being buried beside his mother. The Cossack elder even took Kostyuchenko to a former factory dormitory where some of the town’s gay men apparently live, in order to demonstrate his supposed benevolence toward the LGBTQ community.
While Kostyuchenko was in Ilsky, detectives told her that homophobia was the most likely motive for the double homicide. Police working the case had interviewed all the known gay men in town, and the senior investigator joked to Kostyuchenko that the murders might have been a crime of passion committed by a jealous lover. The victims had just received their pensions, but the killer left the money and everything else in the house. In connection with the case, police interrogated the neighbor’s son, Alexander Panteleenko — a 53-year-old unmarried, childless, nearly blind man, whose detention mortified his mother. When he was released after three days, Panteleenko’s biggest concern was that the town would think he is gay, like Dubentsov and Galdin.
After Kostyuchenko left Ilsky, police arrested 23-year-old Alexander Fet-Ogly for the murders. Previously incarcerated for burglary, Fet-Ogly has history with the local Cossacks: as a teenager, he traveled to Krymsk in 2012 with the group and helped with flood relief efforts. Fet-Ogly’s father was also a Cossack member. The young man was arrested a day before he was due to ship out for contract military service. He’s confessed to the killings, claiming that Dubentsov and Galdin made a pass at him while they were all drinking together, and he “defended himself.” “It seems he went a bit overboard,” the police told Kostyuchenko.
On January 13, Dubentsov’s remains were laid to rest next to his mother's grave. Galdin’s body is still at the town morgue, as officials search for his relatives. He won’t be buried beside his long-time partner.
Report by Novaya Gazeta's Elena Kostyuchenko
Summary by Kevin Rothrock

January 31, 2019

The LGBT Community Files Complaint Demanding Criminal Investigation on TheTorture, Disappearance of Gay People in Chechnya

By Moscow 
LGBT activists say they filed a complaint demanding Russian authorities opened a criminal investigation into the alleged detention and torture of people as part of a suspected anti-gay campaign by security forces in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
The LGBT Network, a St. Petersburg-based group, said in a statement it submitted the complaint to the Investigative Committee, Russia's rough equivalent of the FBI, on Tuesday, asking it to probe the alleged detention of at least 14 people, as well as torture and at least one murder.
The move is an attempt by the group to compel Russian authorities to act on reports of a new wave of detentions and torture targeting the gay community in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in southern Russian ruled by dictatorial leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Earlier this month, the LGBT Network claimed at least 40 people were detained and two killed in what they fear is a renewal of a campaign of persecution in Chechnya that in 2017 saw dozens of gay men rounded up and brutally tortured.
As in 2017, Chechen authorities denied the reports, largely by asserting that homosexuality does not exist in Chechnya.
Igor Kochetkov, the LGBT Network's director, told ABC News that the 14 cases in the complaint accounted for just those people reportedly held in one police station in Chechnya’s capital, Grozny, and that they had information that others were being held elsewhere across the country.
 Russian policemen surround Russian gay-rights activists standing next to boxes allegedly containing signed petitions calling for a probe into a reported crackdown on Chechnya's LGBT community, during a rally in central Moscow on May 11, 2017.
"We believe several dozen people are detained, no lower than 40," Kochetkov said by phone.
The LGBT Network helped dozens of gay men flee Chechnya in 2017, with many eventually finding asylum abroad. The group is trying to do the same this time, but it is harder because police are now blocking victims by seizing their passports, Kochetkov claimed.
According to the activists, the new detentions began after police arrested the administrator of a social media page popular with LGBT people in the region and began going after contacts in his phone. Unlike in 2017, police are also arresting women, Kochetkov said.
The activists identified two police sites in Grozny where people were allegedly being detained: a police station on Popovich Street and the local Ministry of Interior building. Kochetkov claimed others were also held in the town of Argun, a key site in the 2017 round-up.
For the first time, the group named one of those allegedly detained: Bekhan Yusupov, who Kochetkov said remains imprisoned.
The accounts closely recall those that emerged in 2017. Then, a man, identified for his safety by ABC News under the pseudonym Dmitry, claimed he was held for several days with others in cells deprived of food and water, beaten and hooked up to a battery.
Kochetkov said those allegedly detained this time described being raped with electro-shockers and that men were shaved and forced to dress in women's clothes.
The activists blamed Russia's federal authorities for the new persecutions, saying their failure to intervene in 2017 created a sense of impunity in Chechnya.
 Dancers wearing traditional costumes perform during celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of the Chechen capital of Grozny, Russia, Oct. 5, 2018.
Following heavy international criticism then, Russian federal authorities opened a criminal probe, but it has since gone nowhere. A Russian man, Maxim Lapunov, who publicly described being tortured in October 2017, also filed a criminal complaint to the Investigative Committee.
But the committee declined to open a criminal case, and in November a court rejected Lapunov’s appeal against that decision, saying it was lawful, the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported. Activists demanding an investigation were arrested in 2017
report in December by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation criticized Russia over its response, saying it failed "to live up to its responsibilities."
The U.S. State Department said in a statement this month it is "deeply disturbed" by the reports, calling them "credible" and demanding Russia act to meet its international obligations.
The LGBT Network said it has helped around 150 people leave Chechnya since 2017 and that about 130 of those had managed to go abroad. Rainbow Road, a Canadian-based group, said it has brought around 57 people to Canada.

December 6, 2018

School Children's Drawings of LGBT in Russia Are Seized By Police

Schoolchildren’s drawings depicting same-sex couples have been seized by Russian police and checked to see if they propagate “non-traditional values”.
Photo: Some of the tolerance-themed posters /

Schoolchildren’s drawings depicting same-sex couples and rainbows have been seized by Russian police and checked by psychologists to see if they propagate “non-traditional values”, local news site URA reported on 29 November 2018.
The 17 drawings in question were made by fifth to eleventh grade students as part of a drawing competition with the theme of ‘world tolerance’ at school 115 in Yekaterinburg in east Russia.
URA reported on the exhibition on 28 November, saying 10 drawings had images of rainbows and one ninth grade student had made a poster depicting figures of two females and two males, titled ‘We are not given to choose appearance, orientation or race. We are all unique in our own way’.
Later that day, Russian police seized 17 drawings “for verification” and interviewed the school principal, who explained the drawing contest was part of the international day for tolerance.
City administration later told URA psychologists “conducted a preliminary analysis, during which they did not find elements in the drawings that propagate non-traditional values”.
On 3 December, URA reported the Ministry of Internal Affairs received a complaint that some of the children who drew the 17 posters had been threatened.
“In some of the publications that published news about this competition, there were very radical comments: some (commentators) called for the school to be burned, others wanted children, authors of drawings, and their parents to ‘burn in hell’ a representative of the resource center Alla Chikinda told URA.

October 29, 2018

Young Gay Russian Gains A Victory Against The Russian Anti Gay Law in Court

 This is Maxim, a gay Russian full of courage

MOSCOW (Thomson Reuters Foundation) -
 In an unexpected victory for gay rights, the first minor to be charged in Russia for promoting homosexuality won a court appeal on Friday in defense of his right to post photos on social media of men embracing. 
Maxim Neverov was fined 50,000 rubles ($760) in August after a commission on juvenile affairs found him guilty of “promoting non-traditional sexual relationship among minors”. 
He had posted online photos of shirtless men openly hugging in a nation where gays face legal challenges and risk widespread discrimination. 
After an appeal in the city court of Biysk and several hearings, a judge found there was not enough evidence to establish Neverov’s guilt and overturned the fine. 
“It was totally unexpected,” Neverov, 16, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview immediately after the court hearing. 
He said he had been prepared to lose the decision. 
“I had a draft of a social media post ready saying ‘the court upheld the decision and that we’re ready to continue fighting for justice’ when the judge announced the ruling,” he said. 
The prosecutor’s office in Biysk, Neverov’s hometown in Siberia, could not be reached for comment. It was not clear if an appeal, which must be lodged within 10 days, would follow.  
Neverov was the first minor - age 18 or under in Russia - to be fined under the law, which makes illegal any event or acts regarded by authorities as an attempt to promote homosexuality to minors. 
It has been used to stop gay pride marches and to detain gay rights activists. 
Neverov’s lawyer Artyom Lapov, a member of the gay rights group Russian LGBT Network, said the ruling is “a signal to the LGBT community that they can, and should, fight for their rights.” 
In Russia, “people often think that there’s nothing they can achieve, but this case shows that they, in fact, can and should,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
Russian courts rarely acquit people accused of “gay propaganda”, Network spokeswoman Svetlana Zakharova told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. 
“There are precedents, but they are really rare,” she said. “This case shows that the justice system is aware that the implementation of the [gay propaganda] law often goes too far.” 
Russia was ranked Europe’s second least LGBT-friendly nation in 2016 by ILGA-Europe, a network of European LGBT groups. Homosexuality was a criminal offense in Russia until 1993 and classed as a mental illness until 1999. 
Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Russian gay propaganda law breached European treaty rules, violated the right to freedom of expression and discriminated against LGBT people - a ruling Moscow called unjustly. 
Reporting by Daria Litvinova; Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths and Ellen Wulfhorst Please credit the Thomson Reuters 

September 7, 2018

This HIV Gay Man Had No Choice But to Seek Asylum in Moscow

In mid-July, a gay, HIV-positive foreigner arrived at an immigration office in Moscow seeking asylum in Russia. Unlike in his native Uzbekistan, where sex between men is punishable by up to three years in prison, Russia has not criminalized homosexual relations.

But as he and his lawyer discussed his case with an immigration officer, their interlocutor made clear she had no sympathy for people like him.

"If it were up to me, they would all be put up against a wall," the officer with the Moscow branch of the Russian Interior Ministry's Main Directorate of Migration Affairs said, according to audio of the conversation obtained by RFE/RL.

At one point in the conversation, the officer, who said she herself hailed from the applicant's Central Asian homeland, switched to the man's native language to express her disapproval of the man's sexual orientation.

"Cursed be your father. Do you understand me, dog?" she is heard saying in Uzbek.
The officer's comments are now the subject of a formal complaint to Russian authorities by the applicant's lawyer on behalf of a rare subset of individuals seeking refuge in Russia: gay men.

Advocacy groups have registered a spike in asylum applications by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Russians in the West since Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a controversial 2013 law that bans "promoting..nontraditional sexual relations" among minors.
But the number of people fleeing to Russia from governments with more restrictive laws on same-sex relations remains exceedingly small, according to Russian activists who work with such asylum seekers.

That number jumped slightly when Russia hosted the World Cup this summer, as some foreign gay men obtained official fan passes for the soccer tournament and sought refuge after arriving in the country, according to Varvara Tretyak, a counselor with the Civic Assistance Committee, a Moscow-based nongovernmental organization that helps refugees and forced migrants.
'They Think It's Like Europe'
Some of the gay men fleeing to Russia, such as the Uzbek man cited in the complaint by his lawyer, hail from predominantly Muslim former Soviet republics in Central Asia, where they risk criminal prosecution and unofficial persecution due to their sexual orientation.

While those applicants have a certain grasp on Russian realities, Tretyak says that others -- such as applicants from Africa -- were unaware of the trajectory of LGBT rights in Russia, which rights groups and Western officials have accused of fostering discrimination and emboldening violence against sexual minorities in recent years.

"They think that it's like Europe in Russia, and that they've found a safe space. And, of course, they are very disappointed when they apply for asylum because there they encounter very strong homophobia from officials who insult them," Tretyak told RFE/RL in a telephone interview.
Antigay protesters attack a gay-rights activist during an LGBT rally in central Moscow in May 2015.
Antigay protesters attack a gay-rights activist during an LGBT rally in central Moscow in May 2015.
Putin and other officials deny that Russia discriminates against sexual minorities and have said the so-called "gay-propaganda" law enacted in 2013 ismerely aimed at protecting children
Anton Ryzhov, a lawyer for the Russian LGBT organization Stimul representing the Uzbek man who was called a "dog" by the immigration officer, said he and his colleagues decided to file a formal complaint with the Interior Ministry in order to change what he called a "vicious" system for those seeking asylum and refugee status in Russia.

"We agreed that we won't just ignore it and will try to shine a light on this issue, otherwise it will happen again to everyone we bring in," added Ryzhov, who said he submitted the complaint by mail this week on behalf of the Uzbek man and gay men from Turkmenistan, Nigeria, and Cameroon seeking refugee status in Russia.

The complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by RFE/RL, accuses immigration officers dealing with refugees and asylum seekers of stonewalling Ryzhov's clients by demanding evidence that they are gay during the initial application.
'Everything Was So Great Under Stalin'
Russia is not alone in demanding evidence of sexual orientation from LGBT asylum seekers. The United States, for example, requires such proof as well, said Jackie Yodashkin, a spokeswoman for the New York-based Immigration Equality.

"For refugees fleeing a country where it is unsafe or even a crime to be LGBTQ, it can be immensely difficult to provide 'evidence,' as many are forced to live entirely in the closet for fear of being killed," Yodashkin wrote in an e-mail. 

But Ryzhov said the issue of evidence is to be considered at a later stage, noting that Russian law allows anyone the right to apply for asylum or refugee status.

"Authorities are required to accept [the application]. But they can't even do that," he said.

Ryzhov's complaint also accuses immigration officers of "insults and discrimination" against his clients.

The complaint cites several other remarks by the immigration officer to the gay Uzbek applicant, including her reference to HIV-positive individuals as "AIDS boys" and her remarks that it is "too bad that they developed a treatment" for the disease.

"A disgrace to society," the officer says during the exchange, according to the audio obtained by RFE/RL.

After the applicant says he hopes that he would eventually be allowed to marry his partner in Russia, the officer suggests he try his luck in Uzbekistan, whose deputy justice minister said in May that international calls for greater LGBT rights in the former Soviet republic are not on Tashkent's agenda.
After Ryzhov and his client point out that criminal punishment for homosexual relations is still on the books in Uzbekistan, the officer appeared to long for a return to the Soviet-era criminalization of sexual activity between men.

"Everything was so great under Stalin," she said.​
The Russian Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the immigration officer's recorded remarks to the Uzbek asylum seeker or Ryzhov's objection to the treatment of his clients.

A ministry spokeswoman told RFE/RL that the inquiry was received on September 5 and had been passed along to its migrant-affairs directorate.
'It's Not As Bad As In Cameroon'
Thierry, a gay Cameroonian man in his late 20s, said he was unaware of what rights watchdogs call a deteriorating situation for LGBT rights in Russia when he decided to apply for refugee status there this year.

"I didn't know about [the 2013 'gay-propaganda' law]. I learned about it after coming to Russia," Thierry, whose case is cited in Ryzhov's complaint, told RFE/RL in a telephone interview.

Thierry, who agreed to speak on condition that his last name not be published, said he and his boyfriend were attacked "physically and verbally" in Cameroon after people learned that he was gay. He said he was also physically abused by his father and other relatives.

"My mother tried to support me by telling me to leave the country," he said.
Thierry said he ended up in Russia earlier in early 2018 after around four years of trying to flee Cameroon, where same-sex sexual relations are a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
A rainbow-colored ribbon is tied to a crucifix next to a Russian flag fluttering atop the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg last month.
A rainbow-colored ribbon is tied to a crucifix next to a Russian flag fluttering atop the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg last month.
He says he made his way to Morocco and tried to flee to Spain by boat, and that he was rescued after the vessel capsized. An acquaintance in Morocco recommended that he go to Russia, Thierry said.

"He knew someone who could easily send us an invitation to obtain a visa. So he helped, and thank God I obtained a visa. The first time I got a visa I didn't have money for the plane ticket, so the visa I had [expired]. So I got a second visa. That's how I came to Russia. I've been here about three, four months," Thierry said.

He said he left Cameroon "because of violence, because homosexuals are not accepted" there.

"LGBT people are not accepted in Cameroon. We face problems, even death threats in some cases," Thierry said.

He said he feels "a bit more secure here in Russia than in Cameroon."

"The LGBT are not accepted here in Russia, but at least here in Moscow things are different than in Russia's other regions. There are LGBT members that hang out together -- I've found a partner -- so it's not as bad as in Cameroon," Thierry said.
Grounds For Optimism?
LGBT applicants in Russia face a steep challenge in securing asylum or refugee status in Russia. The country had a total of 598 recognized refugees in 2017, the lowest number since 2008, according to official data.
Of the 228,392 people who received temporary asylum in 2017, nearly 99 percent were from Ukraine, where fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Kyiv's forces in the east have killed more than 10,300 since April 2014.

Tretyak of the Civic Assistance Committee said her organization doesn't know "of a single case in which an applicant was granted refugee status or temporary asylum by claiming that he or she is persecuted in their homeland due to their sexual orientation."

Regarding the six LGBT applicants in Russia the group has worked with this year, Tretyak said: "We're very interested to see what immigration services say this time about why they decide not to grant these individuals refugee status."

But there may be some grounds for optimism for the asylum seekers.

Anastasia Soltanovskaya, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Russia, told RFE/RL that while Interior Ministry data shows that "very few" people receive refugee status in Russia, "we have had LGBTI cases that received temporary asylum.
RFE/RL correspondents Golnaz Esfandiari, Merkhat Sharipzhanov, and Sirojiddin Tolibov contributed to this report.

August 13, 2018

The First Minor Prosecuted by Russia Under The Gay Propaganda Law

 Maxim Neverov, 16

 A schoolboy has become the first minor to be prosecuted under Russia’s strict “gay propaganda” laws.
Maxim Neverov, a 16-year-old from the city of Biysk, was reportedly fined £50,000 rubles (£580) by a court, according to campaign group the Russian LGBT Network.
The organization said a police report filed in July claimed the teenager had posted several images of “partly nude” men on the social network VKontakte.
It added the images had been determined to have “the characteristics of propaganda of homosexual relations”, according to an “expert opinion”.
The Russian LGBT Network, which also provided a lawyer to represent Maxim, said authorities may have pursued charges following the teenager’s involvement in an event called “Gays or Putin”.
He and other organisers reportedly submitted 12 applications to hold events around Biysk, all of which were rejected by the city.
“Maxim Neverov points to the absurdity of the fact that the proceedings for propaganda among minors were initiated against a minor, but he expected such a decision,” the network said in a statement.
“Maxim Neverov is 16 years old; he is a schoolchild.”
The teenager’s lawyer, Artem Lapov, said the decision by the court violated his client’s right to freedom of expression.
He said he intended to appeal the decision, claiming Maxim’s friends and supporters were barred from attending the hearing, while the recording of proceedings were also forbidden.
Russia’s so-called “gay propaganda” rules were agreed by the State Duma in 2013 and later signed into law by president Vladimir Putin.
The stated aim of the laws is to “protect” minors from being exposed to content that presents homosexuality as being a norm in society.
Moscow claims the rules uphold “traditional family values” by “preventing children from forming non-traditional sexual predispositions”.
The laws have received widespread criticism from campaign groups and human rights organisations.
Kyle Knight, of Human Rights Watch, said the law was a "flimsy excuse to discriminate against LGBT people".
In 2017, the European Court of Human Rights ruled the legislation was discriminatory and restricted the free speech of Russian citizens.

July 11, 2018

The Message from Gay Fans Right in Moscow to Gay Russians "You Are Not Alone"

by Kit Ramgopal
Saying you are gay or anything about the gay community is considereed Gay “propaganda” and is banned in Russia, but that did not stop a group of soccer fans at the 2018 World Cup from promoting LGBTQ rights in Moscow with a subtle — yet colorful — protest.
Activists from Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia traveled to the Russian capital wearing their national jerseys, which conveniently create a rainbow pride flag when they line up side-by-side. The initiative, titled “The Hidden Flag,” was the brainchild of an ad agency from Spain called LOLA MullenLowe.
In a statement posted to, the agency said it was inspired to pursue the project to denounce Russia’s anti-gay policies — and it did so by using a decades-old symbol of LGBTQ pride.
“In the plain light of day, in front of the Russian authorities, Russian society and the whole world, we wave the flag with pride,” the group wrote.
“How?” the statement continued. “Using something that would never arouse anyone’s suspicions: football jerseys.”
The now-viral images show the group of six — who had never met before Moscow — chatting at a World War II memorial, listening to dimly lit live music next to a Lenin bust, relaxing by the subway under a mosaic of the Soviet writer Maxim Gorky and marching through security checkpoints in a rainbow line next to a policewoman clad in black.
Image: Gay rights activists, wearing soccer jerseys to form a rainbow flag, sit on a bench in the metro in Moscow
Gay rights activists, wearing soccer jerseys to form a rainbow flag, sit on a bench in Moscow's metro as they visit Russia during the World Cup.Javier Tles / Reuters

The motley crew of protesters included, from left to right, Marta Márquez (red jersey), president of an LGBTQ advocacy group in Spain; Eric Houter (orange), a straight man from the Netherlands participating in honor of his gay brother; Eloi Pierozan Junior (yellow), a marketing manager from a small town in Brazil; Guillermo León (green), a documentary filmmaker from Mexico; Vanesa Paola Ferrario (blue), an audiovisual editor from Argentina; and Mateo Fernández Gómez (purple), an advertising art director from Colombia.
Gómez said a friend called to tell him about the project, saying the organizers needed a gay Colombian to don the country’s purple jersey to complete the flag. Gómez said he agreed to participate because he thought it was “a really cool idea,” not because he had the urge to protest.
“I haven’t had to fight for my rights to be who I am,” he told NBC News, noting he has “grown up among accepting family and friends in Colombia.” 
When he arrived in Russia, however, he said everything changed.
“I experienced three days of anguish,” he said of the country’s lack of LGBTQ acceptance. “It was only three days for me, and I was freaking out.”
“You never see two girls holding hands or two guys having dinner together,” he added. “Even with the stupid amount of tourists in the city, you see nothing. You just walk around and get nervous, because you’re creating the gay flag, and gay propaganda is illegal in this country.”
Despite their colorful protest, Gómez said most of the passersby in Moscow didn’t even notice the rainbow jerseys’ LGBTQ significance. He said people took photos of them mainly because they were surprised to see competing fans hanging out.
Russia effectively silenced public displays of LGBTQ pride in 2013 by outlawing “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. Gay pride parade requests are repeatedly denied, and a number of LGBTQ activists have been convicted under the propaganda law.
Gómez, who has since left Moscow, said he had a message for LGBTQ Russians: “I want them to know they are not alone, and we will keep fighting from afar so that they will able to be free.”

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